RENO - Forgive Chris Ault for trying to temper the excitement surrounding Cody Fajardo.
"He's getting better and better every week," the Nevada Wolf Pack head coach said of his red-shirt freshman quarterback.
Ault, it seems, is a bit wary of going overboard with his praise of his wet-behind-the-ears starting quarterback. Fajardo, after all, has just five starts under his Wolf Pack belt and, well, we'll let Ault explain.
"He still has a lot to learn," Ault said. "There are still a lot of situations he hasn't seen."
Fajardo will bring his lack of experience and 5-0 record as a starting quarterback into Mackay Stadium on Saturday afternoon (1:05 p.m., 630-AM) when the Wolf Pack takes on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a piece of the Western Athletic Conference title on the line.
"He's doing a nice job," Ault said. "He's growing every time out there. But there's still a long way to go."
In other words, Colin Kaepernick's status as the greatest quarterback in Wolf Pack history is safe. For now.
Nobody, not even Ault, can deny that Fajardo has been as good as advertised. It was Ault, after all, who dubbed him "the leader of this recruiting class" in 2010 as well as "a special athlete and a great fit for the pistol offense. He's everything you want in this offense."
But that was the last time, it seems, that Ault has gone overboard in his praise for the 6-foot-2, 205-pound former Servite High (Anaheim, Calif.) quarterback.
"His teammates have done a great job of making him look good," Ault said.
That's just Ault reminding his young quarterback that he still has a lot to learn.
Fajardo, who has already won two Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week awards, has gotten the message loud and clear.
"I feel I have to get better every week," Fajardo said.
He has done exactly that. And more.
Fajardo, who took over for Tyler Lantrip as the starter in Week 5 against UNLV, has passed for 1,255 yards and five touchdowns and has rushed for 525 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. When he took over the offense, the Wolf Pack was 1-3 and beaten up, battered and bruised (mentally and physically) after four grueling road games. They are now 6-3, headed to a bowl game for the seventh consecutive season and in total control of the WAC.
So let the comparison games with Kaepernick begin. The difference between Fajardo and Kaepernick already seem to be as slim as the differences between Cody and Colin.
Kaepernick passed for 2,175 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 593 yards and six touchdowns his red-shirt freshman year. With four games remaining on the schedule (including a bowl game) Fajardo will likely approach and surpass most of those numbers.
A better comparison between Kaepernick and Fajardo right now, though, is a close look at each quarterback's first five career starts.
Fajardo is 5-0 after five starts and Kaepernick was 3-2. Fajardo is 94-of-132 (71%) for 1,182 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while Kaepernick was 65-of-123 (53%) with two interceptions, 10 touchdowns and 987 yards. Fajardo has run the ball 71 times over his first five starts for 328 yards and eight touchdowns while Kaepernick kept it 61 times for 403 yards and five touchdowns.
Add it all up through their first five starts and Fajardo has been responsible for 1,510 yards and 12 touchdowns while Kaepernick had 1,390 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"The more games I play, the better I'll get," Fajardo said.
The Pack head coach confirmed this week that Fajardo, as a red-shirt freshman, is already as accomplished a thrower as Kaepernick was as a senior.
"He's a natural throwing the ball," Ault said. "We had a lot of work to do with Colin to get him to that level throwing the ball."